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New Rural Toolkit for Transportation Grants


Trump Administration Announces Key Transportation Grant Resource for Rural Communities

Rural infrastructure has been overlooked and neglected for far too long across this country. Poor infrastructure compromises safety, impedes economic development and job creation, and harms quality of life.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has an important program – the Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) Initiative – to close the gap in resources devoted to urban versus rural America. This new program will help rural communities access federal transportation grant funding and loan programs.  It also improves data sharing to help rural communities better analyze their transportation needs. As part of this initiative, DOT established a ROUTES Council, which has reached out to rural communities to help you better identify and assess your transportation needs, and craft solutions.

 @SecElaineChao: .@USDOT is releasing ROUTES Applicant Toolkit which will help rural communities better identify and navigate grant funding opportunities for transportation projects and improve safety on rural roads. 

From a safety point of view, rural America needs attention. 70% of America’s roadways are in rural areas.  Those roads carry 47% of America’s truck traffic. Only 20% of Americans reside in rural areas. Yet, 46% of traffic fatalities occur on rural roads. Prior to this Administration, DOT's discretionary infrastructure grant programs were skewed towards urban areas. Rural America is not looking for a handout. Rural America is looking for a hand up to understand what federal resources are available to assist. This is one reason the Trump Administration is pleased to announce the release of the ROUTES toolkit which will help Tribal and other rural applicants navigate the various funding opportunities DOT has to offer. Below you will find a copy of the press release and click here to access the ROUTES toolkit

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao Announces Key Resource for Rural Communities

Secretary Chao’s remarks can be viewed HERE

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao today announced the Applicant Toolkit (Toolkit) for the Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) Initiative at the U.S. Department of Transportation. It is the latest effort by the Department and the Trump Administration to improve rural access to federal grant funds. The Toolkit provides user-friendly information and resources to enhance rural applicants’ familiarity with the Department’s discretionary grant programs and the funding process.

“The ROUTES Applicant Toolkit will help rural communities better identify and navigate grant funding opportunities for rural transportation projects,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. 

Rural communities and their transportation networks have been instrumental in building and supplying urban areas throughout our nation’s history, carrying people from city to city and carrying freight from bedrock American industries such as agriculture, mining, forestry, and manufacturing. Yet rural transportation infrastructure has significant challenges.  

While one-fifth of Americans live in rural areas, 70% of America’s road miles are in rural areas, carrying nearly 50% of the nation’s truck traffic. In addition, 44% of automobile travel on rural roads is done by metropolitan area citizens, and rural America’s traffic fatalities are disproportionately high, with a fatality rate twice that of urban areas. Further, of the nation’s bridges that are posted for weight limits, 90% are in rural areas.

Discretionary grant applications can be complex and resource-intensive to complete. Many of the Department’s discretionary grant programs require non-federal funding to cover a portion of project costs, which may present an additional barrier to rural communities with limited funding. 

The new ROUTES Toolkit addresses these challenges by assisting rural stakeholders to better understand how to access the Department’s grants and financing products. Specifically, the Toolkit illustrates key applicant requirements when participating in the Department’s discretionary grants processes. It also catalogues discretionary grant programs by applicant type and eligible project activities. Additionally, the Toolkit provides resources for applicants to maximize the potential for award success.

Secretary Chao announced the ROUTES Initiative at the annual meeting of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in St. Louis, Missouri last October. The initiative is led by the ROUTES Council, an internal deliberative body at DOT, which identifies critical rural transportation concerns and coordinate efforts among the Department’s operating administrations.  

To learn more about the ROUTES Initiative and the Toolkit, visit